When ‘Drop It’ Is the Best New Year’s Resolution | Kanebridge News
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When ‘Drop It’ Is the Best New Year’s Resolution

Some aspects of sleep, weight, friendships and fitness aren’t worth worrying about

Wed, Jan 4, 2023 9:23amGrey Clock 4 min

Millions of people spend the final days of December coming up with ambitious tasks for the new year. In 2023, resolve to take something off your plate instead.

Physical and mental health—including eating habits, self-care, exercise and weight loss—are among the most common focuses for resolutions. But nearly two-thirds of people who set New Year’s resolutions abandon them within the first month, according to research published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Part of the problem is that designating vague goals often sets us up for failure, physical- and mental-health professionals say. Consciously removing some of them from your mental to-do list can help alleviate stress and improve focus, says social psychologist Jessica Ayers.

“By taking off one of those big, lofty goals, you’re giving yourself the freedom to actually pursue the goals that are most important to you,” says Dr. Ayers, who is based in Boise, Idaho.

Here are four anti resolutions that will help you enter 2023.

Stop Worrying About Being Night Owl

If you are one of the many people whose bedtimes shifted later during the pandemic, you might be resolving to go to bed earlier. Getting more sleep is a worthy goal, but being a night owl isn’t necessarily the problem, according to sleep researchers.

People have individual chronotypes, or natural tendencies for waking early or sleeping in. When it comes to sleep health, quality, quantity and consistency are the most important metrics, sleep experts say.

If you go to bed at midnight but get between seven and nine hours of good-quality sleep, there is probably no need to worry about moving your bedtime up, says Shelby Harris, a Westchester, N.Y.-based clinical psychologist specialising in behavioural sleep medicine.

Dr. Harris says she has noticed a stigma around being a night owl, compared with morning larks, who are often viewed as more productive and in sync with the nine-to-five schedule. She tells patients they should only embark on the often difficult work of shifting their circadian rhythms, which she says can cause anxiety and insomnia in the early stages, if they are suffering from sleep deprivation.

Stop Weighing Yourself

Many people resolve to lose weight in the new year only to end up obsessing over the number on the scale or give up altogether, doctors and dietitians say.

For those whose doctors have urged them to monitor their weight at home, including people working to prevent or manage chronic conditions, patients undergoing cancer treatments and certain people who are underweight, it is a good idea to keep the scale handy, according to health experts.

Otherwise, consider ditching the scale altogether, says Gregory Dodell, an endocrinologist in New York City who sees many patients for weight-related matters. Self-weighing has been associated with weight loss, but also lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of stress, according to a meta-analysis of 23 studies published in the journal Health Psychology Review in 2016.

“Stepping on a scale without any other health markers is not very impactful,” says Dr. Dodell.

He recommends giving priority to healthy behaviours, such as incorporating more movement into your day and eating enough protein, fruits and vegetables, which can improve health indicators even if they don’t affect weight. Patients who like tracking health metrics might want to focus on other quantifiable characteristics such as blood pressure and blood-sugar levels, he says.

Caroline Susie, a registered dietitian in Dallas, says she has focused on celebrating what she calls non-scale victories with clients, which can include sleeping better, having regular bowel movements, or feeling more energetic.

Stop Worrying That You Don’t Have Enough Friends

Many resolution-setters aim to meet new people and make new friends, but when it comes to friendships, psychologists say, quality matters more than quantity.

We have a limited amount of time and energy to invest in our relationships, says Dr. Ayers, the social psychologist. Keeping a smaller circle of friends allows us to invest more time into meaningful conversations with them, she says.

“Think of deepening instead of broadening,” says psychologist Marisa G. Franco.

As we age and become aware that the end of our lives is drawing closer, we tend to care less about having more friends, a phenomenon known in the field of social science as socio-emotional selectivity. To start forging closer bonds, increase the amount of time you spend with your close friends. That can mean scheduled dates, such as weekly dinners or book clubs, but should also include last-minute hangouts, says Dr. Franco.

“It’s a sign of intimacy when we believe people won’t reject us,” she says.

In a 2020 study of women published in Adultspan Journal, those who visited with close friends a couple of times a week felt younger and had significantly higher levels of life satisfaction than those who visited with theirs a couple of times a year or not at all.

Stop Wasting Money on Fitness

Planning to join a pricey health club or fitness program this year? Don’t rely on the price tag to motivate you.

“Meaningful, lasting, positive change doesn’t come from shame, blame and guilt,” says Darlene Marshall, a personal trainer and wellness coach in Valley Falls, N.Y.

Before you hit “subscribe” on a membership you might not make the most of, ask yourself what you are hoping to get out of it. For many, the answer goes beyond losing weight or looking good in their jeans, says Ms. Marshall. Getting outside, even for short periods, can provide mental and physical health benefits.

“If the question is, ‘Which is going to help with my well-being: the walk in the park or 20 minutes on the StairMaster?’ The walk in the park is going to have a better outcome,” she says.

About 20 minutes of daily moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, which could include a brisk walk or pushing a lawn mower, provides the same health benefits as running for 60 to 75 minutes a week, according to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Outdoor activities, such as group walks, hiking or biking, became more popular during the pandemic, according to the ACSM’s 2023 fitness trends report.

“Outdoor activity doesn’t take any technology and they don’t have to rely on an instructor instructing them from who knows where,” says Dr. Walt Thompson, former president of the ACSM and author of the report.


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At the World Plogging Championship, contestants have lugged in tires, TVs and at least one Neapolitan coffee maker

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GENOA, Italy—Renato Zanelli crossed the finish line with a rusty iron hanging from his neck while pulling 140 pounds of trash on an improvised sled fashioned from a slab of plastic waste.

Zanelli, a retired IT specialist, flashed a tired smile, but he suspected his garbage haul wouldn’t be enough to defend his title as world champion of plogging—a sport that combines running with trash collecting.

A rival had just finished the race with a chair around his neck and dragging three tires, a television and four sacks of trash. Another crossed the line with muscles bulging, towing a large refrigerator. But the strongest challenger was Manuel Jesus Ortega Garcia, a Spanish plumber who arrived at the finish pulling a fridge, a dishwasher, a propane gas tank, a fire extinguisher and a host of other odds and ends.

“The competition is intense this year,” said Zanelli. Now 71, he used his fitness and knack for finding trash to compete against athletes half his age. “I’m here to help the environment, but I also want to win.”

Italy, a land of beauty, is also a land of uncollected trash. The country struggles with chronic littering, inefficient garbage collection in many cities, and illegal dumping in the countryside of everything from washing machines to construction waste. Rome has become an emblem of Italy’s inability to fix its trash problem.

So it was fitting that at the recent World Plogging Championship more than 70 athletes from 16 countries tested their talents in this northern Italian city. During the six hours of the race, contestants collect points by racking up miles and vertical distance, and by carrying as much trash across the finish line as they can. Trash gets scored based on its weight and environmental impact. Batteries and electronic equipment earn the most points.

A mobile app ensures runners stay within the race’s permitted area, approximately 12 square miles. Athletes have to pass through checkpoints in the rugged, hilly park. They are issued gloves and four plastic bags to fill with garbage, and are also allowed to carry up to three bulky finds, such as tires or TVs.

Genoa, a gritty industrial port city in the country’s mountainous northwest, has a trash problem that gets worse the further one gets away from its relatively clean historic core. The park that hosted the plogging championship has long been plagued by garbage big and small.

“It’s ironic to have the World Plogging Championship in a country that’s not always as clean as it could be. But maybe it will help bring awareness and things will improve,” said Francesco Carcioffo, chief executive of Acea Pinerolese Industriale, an energy and recycling company that’s been involved in sponsoring and organizing the race since its first edition in 2021. All three world championships so far have been held in Italy.

Events that combine running and trash-collecting go back to at least 2010. The sport gained traction about seven years ago when a Swede, Erik Ahlström, coined the name plogging, a mashup of plocka upp, Swedish for “pick up,” and jogging.

“If you don’t have a catchy name you might as well not exist,” said Roberto Cavallo, an Italian environmental consultant and longtime plogger, who is on the world championship organizing committee together with Ahlström.

Saturday’s event brought together a mix of wiry trail runners and environmental activists, some of whom looked less like elite athletes.

“We like plogging because it makes us feel a little less guilty about the way things are going with the environment,” said Elena Canuto, 29, as she warmed up before the start. She came in first in the women’s ranking two years ago. “This year I’m taking it a bit easier because I’m three months pregnant.”

Around two-thirds of the contestants were Italians. The rest came from other European countries, as well as Japan, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico, Algeria, Ghana and Senegal.

“I hope to win so people in Senegal get enthusiastic about plogging,” said Issa Ba, a 30-year-old Senegalese-born factory worker who has lived in Italy for eight years.

“Three, two, one, go,” Cavallo shouted over a loudspeaker, and the athletes sprinted off in different directions. Some stopped 20 yards from the starting line to collect their first trash. Others took off to be the first to exploit richer pickings on wooded hilltops, where batteries and home appliances lay waiting.

As the hours went by, the athletes crisscrossed trails and roads, their bags became heavier. They tagged their bulky items and left them at roadsides for later collection. Contestants gathered at refreshment points, discussing what they had found as they fueled up on cookies and juice. Some contestants had brought their own reusable cups.

With 30 minutes left in the race, athletes were gathering so much trash that the organisers decided to tweak the rules: in addition to their four plastic bags, contestants could carry six bulky objects over the finish line rather than three.

“I know it’s like changing the rules halfway through a game of Monopoly, but I know I can rely on your comprehension,” Cavallo announced over the PA as the athletes braced for their final push to the finish line.

The rule change meant some contestants could almost double the weight of their trash, but others smelled a rat.

“That’s fantastic that people found so much stuff, but it’s not really fair to change the rules at the last minute,” said Paul Waye, a Dutch plogging evangelist who had passed up on some bulky trash because of the three-item rule.

Senegal will have to wait at least a year to have a plogging champion. Two hours after the end of Saturday’s race, Ba still hadn’t arrived at the finish line.

“My phone ran out of battery and I got lost,” Ba said later at the awards ceremony. “I’ll be back next year, but with a better phone.”

The race went better for Canuto. She used an abandoned shopping cart to wheel in her loot. It included a baby stroller, which the mother-to-be took as a good omen. Her total haul weighed a relatively modest 100 pounds, but was heavy on electronic equipment, which was enough for her to score her second triumph.

“I don’t know if I’ll be back next year to defend my title. The baby will be six or seven months old,” she said.

In the men’s ranking, Ortega, the Spanish plumber, brought in 310 pounds of waste, racked up more than 16 miles and climbed 7,300 feet to run away with the title.

Zanelli, the defending champion, didn’t make it onto the podium. He said he would take solace from the nearly new Neapolitan coffee maker he found during the first championship two years ago. “I’ll always have my victory and the coffee maker, which I polished and now display in my home,” he said.

Contestants collected more than 6,600 pounds of trash. The haul included fridges, bikes, dozens of tires, baby seats, mattresses, lead pipes, stoves, chairs, TVs, 1980s-era boomboxes with cassettes still inside, motorcycle helmets, electric fans, traffic cones, air rifles, a toilet and a soccer goal.

“This park hasn’t been this clean since the 15 century,” said Genoa’s ambassador for sport, Roberto Giordano.


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